Myanmar lowers maximum jail terms for protestors

Despite eased punishments, activists call for law to be abolished entirely.

Myanmar lowers maximum jail terms for protestors

World Bulletin / News Desk

Myanmar has eased punishments against protestors who breach a controversial law that has been used to lock up activists campaigning against land seizures and energy price hikes.

State media have reported that the maximum jail term for people who organize demonstrations without permission from officials has been halved to six months, while those who cause unrest will face up to one year behind bars instead of two.

But activists have responded to the amendments with calls to abolish the law entirely.

“I can’t abide the amended law, it is still completely against human rights,” Robert Sann Aung, a lawyer and former political prisoner, told the Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

The changes to the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law are also designed to make it more difficult for local authorities to reject requests for demonstrations.

Until recently, public displays of dissent in Myanmar were exceedingly rare. But sweeping reforms brought in after President Thein Sein’s government came to power in 2011 have emboldened demonstrators to take to the streets.

Despite the new freedoms, activists have voiced concerns that the peaceful protest law, passed in late 2011, has been used arbitrarily by local police and administrators to stifle protests.

The amendments, passed by parliament last week, mean police can now only reject a request to hold a demonstration on the grounds that it might stoke hatred between religious groups.

The changes are weaker than the initial proposals put forward by Thura U Aung, an MP in the ruling USDP party. He suggested that protest organizers only be required to inform authorities before marching, and called for the removal of all jail terms.

Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2014, 10:21
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